When it comes to creating truly stunning presentations, few companies have a pedigree as rich as Manhattan-based Sales Graphics.
Don’t let the unassuming name fool you – their diverse client base reads like a Who’s Who of the Broadcast, Financial Services, and Publishing industries. So why do heavy hitters like A&E, AMC, HBO, Dish TV, NBC Universal, Playboy, American Express, Ferrari, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Western Union choose to work with Sales Graphics? That’s an interesting story and what sets them apart from every other slideshow application on the market.
To begin with, Sales Graphics is the very embodiment of the term ‘deep domain experience’. They’ve been in business for over fifty years. Yes, you read that right. When they opened their doors, presentations still looked pretty much like what you see on a typical episode of Mad Men – cards on an easel. Factor in how tough it is to stay in business in a town like Manhattan, and how long it took for computers to revolutionize the process of presentations, and you know they’ve got what it takes.
Fast forward to a point a little over ten years ago. Microsoft’s PowerPoint has been firmly entrenched in the enterprise as the default mechanism for creating presentations for years, because anyone can create presentations quickly. But there was an unexpected problem with that. All that freedom to ‘throw together a quick slideshow’ meant that people in different parts of a large company were often doing redundant work, creating similar content. Worse yet, it was difficult to control the corporate brand in these presentations.
So, Sales Graphics decided to tackle this problem. Using Macromedia Director, they created a program called CustomShow which allowed an enterprise to centralize its media resources, creating slides that could be reused in different presentations. Now a typical outside sales person could create a quick presentation customized for her client with the same polished look and feel as the ones shown to investors or stockholders. For years, they pushed Director’s boundaries as far as they could. And while they had a great product, they wanted an even better one. They came to realize that the only way to build what they wanted was by switching to Adobe Flex.
Once they made the decision to go with Flex, they knew it would take quite awhile to build everything from scratch again. But they were anxious to let their customers have access to some of the new features like video and custom Flash content that could make their slideshows look as good as their on-air advertising. So, they made a conversion tool that allowed Sales Graphics designers to take a slideshow from their Director app, convert it to the new format and add the new elements using the alpha version of the new Flex-based creation tools.
At this point, Futurescale was engaged to create a set of viewers for web, desktop, and iPad that allowed these new presentations to be viewed outside the creation tool. For a little over two years, Futurescale’s Cliff Hall, author of the PureMVC framework, has worked directly with the Sales Graphics team to bring these products to market.
Since Sales Graphics is a company with long-term clients, they have to take a long view on software development. That’s why they chose to build the new version of CustomShow using the PureMVC framework. It has allowed their codebase to grow and easily adapt to the complexities added by the support of multiple platforms. Offline capabilities in the desktop and iPad applications, a completely different user interface in the iPad version, meetings in the web viewer, all of the user management, upload, and layout capabilities in the creation tool – it really is an enormous undertaking. But adding new features today is as easy as it was a few years ago when the project started.
George Chevalier, President of Sales Graphics had this to say about our 2+ year engagement: “Working with Futurescale over the past few years has been a very positive experience. Cliff has helped engineer our CustomShow app and created valuable new features that are helping us win new clients. His knowledge base is extensive and professionalism second to none. I look forward to continuing our relationship as we develop CustomShow into the future.”
About Sales Graphics
Sales Graphics is a full-service presentation agency providing award-winning design and industry-leading software to help corporate customers meet their sales goals with maximum peace of mind. They offer CustomShow Enterprise Presentation Software, as well as high-end Presentation Design Services that include video, Flash, and multimedia production.
Visit Sales Graphics on the web at: http://www.salesgraphics.com/
Learn more about CustomShow at: http://www.customshow.com/
About the Author:Since the early ’80s, my consuming passion has been programming. Today I work as a Software Architect, bringing more than 30 years of industry experience to bear on every task. My career has run the gamut from writing games in machine language for Commodore 64 and Apple II to implementation of large scale, object-oriented, enterprise applications. In my spare time, I am an author and occasional music producer.